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Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business

Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business

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Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business

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3/5 (2 peringkat)
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369 pages
7 hours
Dirilis:
Jan 6, 2014
ISBN:
9780857193605
Format:
Buku

Deskripsi

A high-growth success story
In 1996 Martyn Dawes set out to build a high-growth business with the will to do whatever it would take to make it a success. Little did he realise how his will would come to be tested, but in 2008 he sold this company - Coffee Nation - for £23m.
Along the way, among many highs and lows, there was the thrill of seeing an idea come to life, costly failed trials and false starts, countless business plans, learning how and when to raise funding, the personal journey of surviving when success seemed so distant and securing contracts with some of the biggest retailers in the world. This is the story of how a great British business was built - from a blank sheet of paper - and how it came to be one of the nation's favourite consumer brands. It's also a guide to help any aspiring entrepreneur put their business on the path to high growth.
Through the course of an exciting narrative, Martyn shares his experiences of growing a business and his knowledge of what you should and shouldn't do. Mistakes to avoid are revealed just as honestly as the good decisions, making this is an unusually frank and valuable account for anyone looking to build their own business.
All areas from start-up to exit are covered, including:
- How to come up with an idea and know if it's any good
- Researching and testing your business model
- When you should not write a business plan and why not
- The process of pitching to investors and raising funding
- Negotiating contracts and controlling your finances
- A special final chapter on how to set up a business for high-growth from the outset
Coffee Nation was based on the reliable principles of a simple idea, a compelling vision, a high-quality product and relentless enterprise. If you have the desire and vision to build your own high-growth business - or you want to read a fascinating story of how it has been done - look no further. It's time to wake up and sell the coffee.
Dirilis:
Jan 6, 2014
ISBN:
9780857193605
Format:
Buku

Tentang penulis

Martyn Dawes is a successful entrepreneur. He founded his first business, MDA (Martyn Dawes Associates) in the recession of 1991. That business continues to trade successfully to this day (now called Dawes Ryan Consulting). His idea for Coffee Nation came from a combination of seeing how many cups of coffee were being sold in convenience stores in New York and reading about the business model of a photocopier company. Four years later, after proving the concept, he raised £4 million in development capital from a London-based private equity firm. Coffee Nation grew fast and secured long-term contracts with major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury, Esso, Moto, Welcome Break and Somerfield. In 2008 the company was sold for £23m, returning investors four times their money and was sold again finally to Whitbread/Costa in 2011 for almost £60m. Martyn and Coffee Nation have won numerous awards, including: -- Sunday Times/Virgin Atlantic Fast Track Awards 2006: Winner of the Innovation Award -- Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2005, South Region, Consumer Products & Services -- Coffee Nation featured in Real Business Hot 100 Index of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in the UK, 2005 and 2006 -- Sunday Times/Virgin Atlantic Index of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in the UK, December 2005, ranked no. 13 -- Sage Business Awards 2003, Best Business Leader (to 25 employees category) -- Orange Small is Beautiful Award 2003; Best Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Passion


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Wake Up and Sell the Coffee! - Martyn Dawes

Publishing details

HARRIMAN HOUSE LTD

3A Penns Road

Petersfield

Hampshire

GU32 2EW

GREAT BRITAIN

Tel: +44 (0)1730 233870

Email: enquiries@harriman-house.com

Website: www.harriman-house.com

First published in Great Britain in 2013

Copyright © Harriman House

The right of Martyn Dawes to be identified as the Author has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.

ISBN: 9780857193605

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A CIP catalogue record for this book can be obtained from the British Library.

All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Publisher. This book may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, without the prior written consent of the Publisher.

Front cover design by e-digital

No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person or corporate body acting or refraining to act as a result of reading material in this book can be accepted by the Publisher, by the Author, or by the employer(s) of the Author.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank everyone who helped Coffee Nation on its way from the very early days through to the sale of the company in 2008 and beyond.

To our customer organisations – Welcome Break, ChevronTexaco, Tesco, Moto, Somerfield, Esso, Sainsbury & Malthurst Pace – thank you for choosing Coffee Nation and becoming our long-term partners.

To our suppliers – thank you for your unflinching support and loyalty over many years – I know we were demanding and a little difficult at times.

To the millions of loyal Coffee Nation customers across the UK – a huge thank you for trying our coffee and then coming back so many times. Thank you for telling us when we got it right and an even bigger thank you to those of you that told us when we got it wrong.

And finally, to our team, without whom my vision would have remained just that. It was through the combined enthusiasm, energy, talent, dedication, long hours and sheer determination of you all that we built something to be proud of. We shared many highs and a few lows along the way. Thank you to you all.

The early team (1997-1999):

Lou Saydrouten, Amani Standring, Helena Walbrook

The Coffee Nation team (2000-2008):

Aaron Potton, Andy Oliver, Annabelle Ward, Cath Everitt, Charlotte Taylor, Chris Miller, Chrissie Drewitt, Dan Aston, Darren Record, Delvene Bee, Dominic Taylor, Don Shirley, Emma Howard, Fran Ball, Gary Sawyers, Ieuan Andrews, James Repper, Kate Watts, Keith Waite, Kristofer Gibson, Mel Taylor, Sean Bowles, Nikki Starling, Peter Lynn, Paul Dempsey, Richard Evans, Roy Richards, Sami Williams, Sarah Kelly, Sarah Perry, Shane Moates, Simon Hawking, Stephen Hughes, Sue Stallwood, Tessa Johnson, Tim Cox, Toby Earl, Tom Stazicker

The Coffee Nation Board:

Derek Harris, Martin Harris, Scott Martin, Neil Wallace, Vivien Hale, Carl Jackson, Simon Vardigans

...and to my wife Trudi – who was my first inspiration, is my rock and partner, I will always love you.

About the author

Martyn Dawes is a successful entrepreneur. He founded his first business, MDA (Martyn Dawes Associates) in the recession of 1991. That business continues to trade successfully to this day under two brands, Coachmatch and Dawes Ryan Consulting..

His idea for Coffee Nation came from a combination of seeing how popular takeaway coffee was in convenience stores in New York and reading about the business model of a photocopier company. Four years later, after proving the concept, he raised £4m in development capital from a London-based private equity firm.

Coffee Nation grew fast and secured long-term contracts with major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury, Esso, Moto, Welcome Break and Somerfield.

In 2008 the company was sold for £23m, returning investors four times their money and was finally sold to Whitbread/Costa in 2011 for almost £60m.

Martyn and Coffee Nation have won numerous awards, including:

Sunday Times/Virgin Atlantic Fast Track Awards 2006: Winner of the Innovation Award

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2005, South Region, Consumer Products & Services

Coffee Nation featured in Real Business Hot 100 Index of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in the UK, 2005 and 2006

Sunday Times/Virgin Atlantic Index of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in the UK, December 2005, ranked no. 13

Sage Business Awards 2003, Best Business Leader (to 25 employees category)

Orange Small is Beautiful Award 2003; Best Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Passion

Introduction

When I started my business Coffee Nation in late 1996 I believed I had found a good opportunity. I also thought I knew something about business, as by then I had been running and growing my own consulting firm for almost five years. I set out a growth path in my business plan which I thought realistic.

I was soon to discover that this path was going to be a whole lot tougher than I had bargained for. My previous business experience counted for very little – the modest ambitions for growth I had set out meant that the entire venture was not worth the effort required and the idea that I thought so simple proved to be anything but.

I persevered but had to make drastic changes along the way. The business plan was soon out of the window and I was experimenting constantly with limited funds – and hence time – in which to find the answer. It was nothing like I expected and to be honest, for much of this period, it wasn’t a lot of fun either. I had to change and I learnt much about myself along the way.

For as long as I could hold on I was determined to never ever give up. It was truly at the eleventh hour – as I was thinking I would have to call it a day – that some light emerged at the end of the tunnel. From there events moved quickly and ten years later Coffee Nation had become a known and loved brand up and down the UK. By now that little business I started has probably served over 100m cups of coffee.

So why have I written this book? Many friends and colleagues with whom I shared the journey of building Coffee Nation encouraged me to tell the story. Contrary to what you might expect, it’s not intended to be an anyone can do it inspirational guide to starting your own business written by a successful entrepreneur. Although if my words do inspire you to start your own venture then that’s great.

What really encouraged me to write Wake Up and Sell the Coffee is the need to help more entrepreneurs not just start a business but to survive and grow. I noticed that so much of what is written and talked about relates to start-ups, not what comes later. The journey beyond survival and on towards growth gets little coverage.

Looking at the figures, out of almost 250,000 businesses that started in 1998 only roughly one-third survived to 2008. The odds are not great, but if you can start from the right place then your chances of success may be greater. Merely encouraging more start-ups is not enough. We need more of these businesses to survive and go on to become high-growth companies. We need quantity and quality.

It is high-quality businesses that survive long enough to become high growth ones, evidenced by the fact that 70% of high-growth companies are at least five years old. Most businesses start small and stay small - they lack the ambition, potential or both to grow beyond this. Only 1.5% of start-ups reach 20 employees. High-growth companies represent only 6% of all UK companies employing ten or more people. [¹]

High growth is not about vanity. These businesses are proven to be more resilient through recession and account for a disproportionate share of job creation. In the period 2007 to 2010 the number of UK businesses growing at over 20% per year remained broadly similar to that in the periods 2002 to 2005 and 2005 to 2008. In these periods, insolvency rates for high-growth firms were approximately 2.5% compared with 4% for non-high growth businesses. [²] It is the tiny number of UK firms experiencing high growth (around 12,000 businesses, or just 6% of those employing more than ten people) that account for more than half the growth in jobs. Between 2005 and 2008 the average high growth UK company almost tripled their headcount. [³] High-growth firms attract and retain the best talent and advance society.

There has never been a better time to start your own business in Britain. I would like to encourage more entrepreneurs to think and dream big and then look for an idea that could be one of those high-growth businesses, rather than settling for starting something less ambitious and with less potential.

I hope Wake Up and Sell the Coffee can play some part in helping more British start-ups start well, survive and get on the right track to becoming successful mid-market growth companies with annual sales of £10m or more and heading on to £100m and beyond. We need more of these, a lot more, if Britain is to maintain its position as one of the world’s strongest economies in the coming years.

I do not deny the role of luck and opportunism, but I think we can do much to enhance the prospects of success. Through telling my own growth story, sharing the lessons I learnt and setting out how to start with the end in mind to design a high-growth business, I hope Wake Up and Sell the Coffee can help more of Britain’s entrepreneurs dream big and achieve big.

Martyn Dawes

November 2013

Endnotes

1 ‘Measuring Business Growth, High growth firms and their contribution to employment in the UK’, NESTA (October 2009). [return to text]

2 ‘Vital Growth: The Importance of High Growth Business to the recovery’, NESTA (March 2011). [return to text]

3 ‘Measuring Business Growth, High growth firms and their contribution to employment in the UK’, NESTA (October 2009). [return to text]

My Early Life

Beginnings

My childhood was unremarkable – I was born in Coventry and grew up in the small town of Nuneaton in Warwickshire. What did mark me out as different was being an adopted child. Whilst I came from a very loving home, there was an imbalance somewhere; I felt I had something to prove. I think my drive was a result of not knowing where I came from.

At school I was above average but not amazing. I studied really hard to get seven O levels and then left sixth-form college after only 12 months to join Sterling Metals as a management trainee, a foundry making components for automotive and aerospace industries where my father also worked. All my friends were off to university but I knew I was going in the right direction – it didn’t feel like a big risk.

Early career

I progressed quickly at Sterling, but in 1990 I left when I was headhunted by Massey Ferguson the agricultural tractor manufacturer. I had a great time with this company but came to realise life in a big company was not for me. By the summer of 1991 I had met my future wife Trudi via Dateline and declared my intention to move in with her in London and start my own business.

I registered for a one-week training programme with the British Standards Institute on auditing management systems of companies and in August of that year I left Nuneaton, moved in with Trudi in her flat in Crystal Palace and started my business. I was providing quality assurance and training consultancy to small businesses, mostly within manufacturing. The word entrepreneur meant nothing to me at that time, but unbeknown to me I was on my way.

My first business – Martyn Dawes Associates

There are a number of things I notice from my early entrepreneurial endeavours. Firstly, I was not looking for a gap in the market to fill. Instead, I was applying what I knew from my professional career to date. This was enough to get me started. I also began to recognise that very often your environment plays a big part in the success you achieve.

Two such factors laid the foundations for me to start my own business. My career in quality assurance and the training I had undertaken (paid for by myself) gave me the credentials to help businesses introduce quality management systems to the ISO9000 standard, which at the time more and more companies were being required to implement by their customers.

The second factor was my girlfriend. Crucially, she supported my ambitions 100% and encouraged me to think bigger than I knew. She had just met me and was happy to be the main source of income whilst I got my business off the ground.

My business was called (somewhat unimaginatively) Martyn Dawes Associates (MDA). I had no idea who the associates were, but somehow it gave the impression that it was more than just me operating out of the back bedroom in Trudi’s south London flat. I was successfully winning clients from day one. I noticed I loved the thrill of identifying the opportunity and winning the business.

When Trudi joined me as a business partner we started winning clients such as The Burton Group and delivering consultancy support to help companies achieve the Investors in People standard. We really started to motor and landed clients such as USA Today, Selfridges and Sandvik.

MDA gave me a terrific grounding in business basics. We were very successful, but after about four years I started to ask myself whether what I wanted to achieve with the business was realistic. I was determined to scale up and build a larger firm and longer-term client base to grow the firm to the next level. Driving the momentum of a growth business is essential – a sense of pace and urgency is critical – but this behaviour has to go with the right sort of business.

I realised that as a professional services firm we were forever trying to create products or services that could be delivered repeatedly in order to create some degree of predictable fee income – but it became clear that it was almost impossible to build this kind of business in a planned and measured way. Worse still, MDA (by now renamed Dawes Ryan Consulting, DRC) was an adjunct to its clients. If they grew so did we, if they contracted it was likely our fee income would shrink too.

DRC was a great business I could be proud of but I realised I craved building a company that could really grow and trying to drive DRC forward at breakneck speed was not the answer. I would have to look elsewhere.

My realisation was that I wanted to build a business with a product and that wasn’t so reliant on a small number of high-value clients, something that wasn’t all about a fee for a day’s work. It was time to set my sights higher and look for a high-growth business opportunity.

Learning points

When you know it’s right, jump. Don’t hesitate or over analyse.

Be prepared to stand up for what you believe in and don’t follow the crowd; if you need to fit in with friends and colleagues you’re probably not an entrepreneur.

Think bigger than you know and set goals that are almost beyond you – they won’t always come off but when they do the confidence boost will propel you forward to the next goal.

Pushing forward is vital but all businesses can only grow at a certain rate; learn what is the optimum pace of expansion for your business and sector.

1996 – My Big Idea

In the spring of 1996 I worked three days a week on DRC clients and the rest of the week looking for a business idea. To be honest I probably looked for any excuse to pad the three days out a bit, the dark side of the week loomed up and I often had a sinking feeling about what I would do with my time in those other two days. DRC was my comfort blanket.

I decided I needed to physically separate myself from my old business so I rented a little office in Wardour Street in London’s Soho. This was a buzzing neighbourhood and it felt fresh and exciting to go there, even if I hadn’t a clue what I was going to do when I arrived at the office. The next step was to find the business idea.

TRM photocopiers

At the time I subscribed to a magazine called Business Age. It was part entrepreneur, part management. During the summer I read a small article about an American photocopier business called TRM, listed on the NASDAQ stock market. It had 30,000 photocopiers located in small retailers across America and the UK, and it was now expanding into France.

What caught my eye about the article was the way this business operated. It bought used photocopiers, refurbished them and then located them in newsagents and drugstores completely free of charge to the retailer. TRM supplied all the consumables and maintained the machines. A rep would visit each store and take a reading from the machines to see how many copies had been made. The revenue (we’re talking 4p a page here) was then split between the shopkeeper and TRM. The more the photocopier was used the greater the percentage of takings kept by the retailer.

It was a simple revenue-share model and somehow it attracted me. It occurred to me as being a win-win model – the retailer would benefit by offering an additional service to their customers and apart from keeping it switched on and full of paper they didn’t have to worry about anything else. The shopkeeper didn’t have the financial outlay for the machine or even the toner and ink cartridges; they were supplied by TRM.

What I also liked was the idea that these machines were working away generating revenue day in, day out. I wondered if I could find another product that would fit this model and then take it to Britain’s small shopkeepers.

A research mission to the US

Whatever business idea I did eventually land on, I was going to need to be able to fund its birth. Trudi and I talked this through and agreed that I take £50K from DRC to fund my new venture.

At around the same time, I attended a business start-up conference and exhibition and talked to the accountancy firm Baker Tilly, who had a stand there. I explained to one of their corporate finance partners that I had £100k – a small lie, but it sounded better than £50K – to invest in a new business. They were interested in working with start-up businesses, so now I had money, a business model and an advisory firm keen to work with me.

I just had to find the product. I asked myself where would be a great place to look for new ideas and before I knew it I was booking a ticket to New York. It occurred to me that great ideas often come out of the US and they inevitably find their way across the Atlantic.

I had never been to New York and here I was off to find an idea for a new business to start in London. I suppose this kind of thing is part of what makes being an entrepreneur such fun; it is an adventure that unfolds day by day and if you relish this you will relish entrepreneurship.

When in New York, each day I would head into town on the subway and pick a different area to explore. My tendency was to look at retail businesses, who sold direct to customers. From what I saw, three opportunities stood out:

A small retail outlet called Custard Beach. It sold tubs of frozen yoghurt for customers to eat in or take away.

A restaurant and cinema called The Screening Room. This was basically a large, casual restaurant with various cinema screens incorporated into it.

Filter coffee being sold in convenience stores (c-stores), like 7-Eleven. I remember seeing all types – suited business people, office workers, delivery drivers, builders, New York cabbies – buying cups of coffee to take away in Styrofoam cups for a dollar a go.

All of these appealed to me. Custard Beach was fun and the product tasted great. People were clearly buying and loving it; it could be a real success rolled out across London. But I had a nagging doubt – the British weather.

The Screening Room was just opening and I could see the concept working in the UK, particularly London. However, combining food and cinema seemed a big task and it was also reliant on the right kind of property.

This left the coffee in convenience stores. What appealed was the sheer volume of filter coffee in plain cups that was flying out of the door of these no frills convenience chains. There was no real estate, no staff and I was aware that coffee bars such as the Seattle Coffee Company had started opening in London. Maybe there was a new trend emerging for coffee drinking in Britain?

I was in New York for a week and then decided to visit the largest shopping mall in America – the Mall of America in Minneapolis – in the hope that I might see an exciting idea there. After a long day walking this enormous mall, one night I found myself flicking through the yellow pages in my hotel room. I reached ‘coffee making equipment’ and decided to call one of the companies listed. They were very helpful and I arranged to meet them the following morning at my hotel.

When I went downstairs to the lobby I was met by a representative of the company who took me out to the car park, where there was a very, very large A-team-type transit van branded in the company’s logo and colours. He slid the side door open and a fully kitted out coffee equipment showroom emerged, complete with leather swivel chairs and the most enormous coffee machine. He gave me the full demonstration and I sampled the coffee, which was amazing.

Three things occurred to me; the machine was huge, could I really see this in a newsagent? Also it was not a machine that a customer could use themselves. Finally, it was expensive, or at least I thought so, and I’d need to sell a lot of coffee to make this work. If this idea was to be the one I ran with I’d need a much smaller, lower-cost machine that was really easy for people to use.

My mind turns to coffee

I returned home thinking that coffee sold in takeaway cups was my idea and there were a number of positive trends I quickly picked up on:

Coffee and sandwich shops were expanding in the UK. Aroma and Seattle Coffee Company were making waves and Coffee Republic opened its first store in 1996.

One of these chains already had some concessions in Waterstones bookshops, so this gave me confidence in the idea of coffee being sold in locations other than standard cafes.

I discovered that fresh coffee was one of the most important elements of the American c-store product range.

I started to list the potential locations where takeaway hot drinks could be sold. I began with CTNs (confectioners, tobacconist, newsagents) and quickly decided that post offices, small grocery stores, opticians, doctor’s surgeries, chemists, tube stations and fashion stores could all be possible locations. If even a small fraction of these worked I’d be looking at thousands of locations.

Then I started to research the equipment and supply side of the model. I found a number of small table top beverage dispensers that were made in the UK, meaning it would be easy to deal with the manufacturers. These were also, I thought, a good price at less than £1000. They used instant coffee granules and powdered milk whisked together with water to produce a cappuccino-style drink.

I researched ingredient and consumable supply and met suppliers. I could produce a coffee for 4p and a cup, lid, sugar and stirrer were another 4.5p. Recognising that I wasn’t competing against coffee bars – this was a convenience product, not an indulgence – I set the drink price in my mind at 60p. Many of my friends would recall me asking them around that time: Would you buy a coffee from a newsagent and what would you pay? Simple market research indeed.

I envisaged the coffee dispenser sitting atop a small fabricated unit that would incorporate cups, lids and other consumables, and a bin for discarded sugar tubes and stirrers. I took some design cues from coffee bars. I remember newspaper articles from that time talking about this US import of drink-thru’ lids which were becoming popular in coffee bars, so I decided to use them as well.

One of the obvious ingredient suppliers for me to speak to was Nestlé, owners of the brand Nescafé. I figured that if I could use the world’s leading brand of instant coffee in the machine this would bring immediate credibility.

It turned out that Nestlé too recognised the development of a food-on-the-move culture in the UK and had an eye on the takeaway coffee market. I was soon meeting them in their head office tower in Croydon, South London. My revenue share business model appealed as they could see that by me owning the equipment and splitting the revenue with the retailer it opened up literally thousands of locations.

They were excited at the prospects of the Nescafé brand being able to penetrate this new market channel and quickly agreed to pay for point of sale material and in-store signage for each location. They also agreed to pay for each machine to be Nescafé branded. This was a real coup for me; all this marketing support at zero cost. I also negotiated great rates for the coffee prices. Nestlé had other brands in petrol station forecourts in central London and we went on a tour of those together. I figured I could learn a lot from these guys.

Despite my comfort with my own business model of selling instant coffee in small shops, I do recall thinking that perhaps Nestlé were being naive in not recognising the growth of roast and ground coffee, which was fuelling the growth of the new breed of coffee bars. This didn’t cause me much concern, however, as I felt people would not be prepared to pay the price for ground coffee in a corner shop or petrol forecourt.

Early business planning

My planning continued. I met with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Association of Convenience Stores. All saw the need for my business and welcomed anything that helped the small retailer. I lined up Dynorod (a franchise-based, nationwide plumbing company) to install mains water into each location. They provided me with detailed costs and I decided that I would pass this on as a set-up cost to the retailer. This was all they

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